My first multi-step decorated cupcakes

23 November 2014

No new recipes today, I'm afraid, But I have some pictures of my recent efforts that I want to share. Yesterday was a good friend's birthday, and as I'm finished exams (Yay me!), I tried my hand at some decorated cupcakes to take along. This is only my second attempt at piping icing, and my first attempt at 2-part piping (the buttercream, and the ganache), but I think they looked impressive enough, if not exactly the product of an experienced and steady hand. Unfortunately, most of the photos didn't turn out (the photos of all the cupcakes laid out in rows for a start), but here are a couple of half-decent ones.

The recipe I used was the Peanut Butter Bombs on p. 37-38 of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World . I followed the instructions exactly, except that I only used 2 cups of icing sugar in the frosting instead of 2.5, and didn't add any soymilk to thin it out as a result. The icing was still more than sweet enough. I was a bit concerned that with less sugar, the icing mightn't be stiff enough, but I iced them the night before, and the icing was still well-defined the next day. I also sprinkled them with crushed nuts instead of chocolate shavings, for no particular reason.

I can see more decorated cupcakes in my future.

Roast pumpkin pasta sauce (vegan)

15 November 2014

I tend to eat a lot of pasta, I suspect most vegans do. It's quick and easy, but tomato based sauces can get repetitive, and creamy sauces just aren't an everyday thing. I usually have a chunk of pumpkin mouldering in the back of the fridge... pumpkin lasagne is good, why not pumpkin pasta sauce? The first time I made this, I raved about it for days afterwards, it really is that good, and simple enough to make for an everyday dinner.

Roast pumpkin pasta sauce

Roast pumpkin pasta sauce

Serves: 4-5

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups mashed roast pumpkin
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 vegetable bullion cube
  • ¾ cup soy milk, or to desired consistency
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • I cup walnuts, Crumbled (for garnish)
  • 1 packet fettuccine

  1. Get water boiling, and then prepare fettuccine according to packet directions.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, in a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic until translucent.
  3. Meanwhile, dry-toast walnuts in a frying pan or in the oven until fragrant (optional but worth it).
  4. Add pumpkin, bullion cube, soy milk and nutritional yeast, and some freshly ground black pepper. Heat through
  5. Use an immersion blender to puree. Alternatively, cool, and transfer to a blender.
  6. Serve atop fettuccine, garnished with walnuts, and some more freshly ground pepper

Roast pumpkin pasta sauce

How to roast a whole pumpkin

12 October 2014

A lot of American recipes call for canned pumpkin. I don't know if you can actually buy it here, I haven't checked, but it's certainly not an everyday pantry item. Besides, I like to avoid cans, because waste and expense.

Since roast pumpkin tastes so much better than boiled or microwaved, roast pumpkin puree is obviously the way to go, so I've always chopped up my pumpkin and roasted it to use in recipes that call for canned pumpkin. However, I recently tried a method with less prep work, and I don't think I’ll ever go back.

Roast pumpkin (whole)

  • 1 whole smallish pumpkin
  • Olive oil for brushing

  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. Wash and dry the pumpkin, any dust left on the skin can cause problems as it collapses with cooking.
  3. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bis.
  4. Brush cut face with olive oil and place face down on a rimmed baking tray. If there's no lip, you will end up having to clean pumpkin juice off the bottom of your oven. Don't ask me how I know.
  5. Put the tray in the oven, and cook until you can easily pierce the skin with a fork. This will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin, but it will probably take around 1.5 hours, start checking earlier if your pumpkin is on the smaller side.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can safely touch it.
  7. Flip the pumpkin over, and scoop the flesh out. I transfer it to a bowl and roughly mash it. If you need it to be sans any stringy bits for a more fancy dish (such as scones), then you can either push it through a mesh sieve, or attack it with a stick mixer or blender. If you're baking with it, you may also wish to drain it through a strainer to get rid of the excess water.
Pumpkin-based recipes coming soon (I hope!).

Almond and cranberry muesli bars (vegan)

01 October 2014

I've eaten a lot of muesli bars in my life. Most commercial muesli bars are not vegan. The ones that are (I'm talking to you Be Natural) taste rather crap. My favourites as a kid were the Uncle Toby's yoghurt topped ones, something I haven't figured out how to reproduce yet, although I believe it could be done at home with the help of a dehydrator. So, yoghurt topped these are not, but delicious they are, and pretty healthy too. Chewy, hearty, and not too sweet.

Almond and cranberry muesli bars

I've been cycling a lot lately, a long ride every weekend on top of my usual commuting, and find that one of these makes a great mid-ride pick-me-up. They also make good study food. I eat too much study food...

Almond and cranberry muesli bars

Almond and cranberry muesli bars

Makes: about 18 bars, depending on how you cut them

  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup agave or maple syrup (or honey, if you're ok with that)
  • ¾ cup smooth peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • ⅔ cup sweetened dried cranberries (craisins)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 and toast the oats in a brownie tin for about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and crispy, then transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Now roast the almonds for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant, then transfer to the bowl.
  3. Turn off oven, then toast the coconut in the still warm oven for about 5 minutes, until golden. Watch closely, as coconut burns quickly.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the agave and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat until combined.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl, including the peanut butter mixture, and mix thoroughly.
  6. Once the brownie tin is cool enough, wipe it out, and line the bottom and sides with cling wrap. Fill with muesli bar mixture, and use the back of a spoon to distribute evenly, packing it down firmly to help it hold together.
  7. Cover with another layer of cling wrap,and transfer to the freezer for about 1 hour, or until solid.
  8. Remove all the cling wrap, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into bars, squares, or whatever you prefer. I cut mine in half lengthways, and then into small bars.
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Almond and cranberry muesli bars

Cranberry "turkey" bagel (vegan)

20 September 2014

I haven't forgotten this blog, I've just had a mini explosion of uni assignments. I've still been doing some blog-related stuff, but I just haven't been able to get any recipes finalised, photographed and written up. Sorry.

In the meantime, here's a simple to prepare but rather gourmet lunch idea. I don't think I can get away with calling it a recipe, and it requires quite a few processed ingredients, but it's an awesome combination that I've had for lunch several times in the last few weeks, and it makes me oh so happy. You could do this as a sandwich instead of as a bagel, but having eaten it both ways, the bagel tastes way, way better.


Cranberry "turkey" bagel

Serves: 1

  • 1 relatively plain bagel - seeds are ok, but don't go for any strong flavourings
  • Vegan cream cheese such as Tofutti
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mock deli meat - I've been using these, available at Woolies and probably Coles
  • Avocado
  • Salad leaves

  1. Halve your bagel, and spread Tofutti on one half, and cranberry sauce on the other
  2. Put 2-3 slices of deli "meat" on the cranberry side, top with some sliced avocado and lettuce, then but the lid on.
  3. Stuff into your face and enjoy escaping, for a time, from the thousands of words you're supposed to be writing.

Teriyaki Sauce (vegan)

30 August 2014

The first time I made a home made a teriyaki noodle bowl, I kept making contented humming noises and saying things along the lines of "I've cracked noodle box." This sauce is good. Really good. The day I took these photos, I was home alone and made a half recipe over noodles and veggies, which should have been enough for dinner and lunch the next day. I had to find something else for lunch...

Teriyaki Sauce

Makes: Enough sauce for 3-4 servings of stir fry
Adapted from: Oh She Glows

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons raw sugar, or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced (out of a tube/jar is fine)
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • sesame seeds for garnish

  1. Mix together cornflour and water in a small dish until smooth, and keep separate.
  2. Whisk together all the other ingredients in a small-to-medium mixing bowl.
  3. Set aside, to let the flavours meld, and prepare your stir fry or noodle bowl ingredients.
  4. Once your stir fry is done, pour in the sauce and bring to the boil
  5. Re-mix your cornflour, and then add to the sauce and stir through for about 30 seconds or until sauce is thickened, then remove from heat.
  6. Serve, garnished with sesame seeds.

Why isn't The Doctor a vegetarian?

25 August 2014

This past year I have turned into a bit of a Doctor Who nut. We started watching the reboot just before Christmas, and finished all seven seasons with a few weeks to spare before yesterday's launch of season 8. I freely acknowledge that it's not brilliant TV, it's no Game of Thrones, and most episodes have plot holes, often giant ones, but it's fun, entertaining, and, unlike Game of Thrones, rarely leaves me feeling depressed.

When I found out that yesterday's season premiere was going to be shown in cinemas, I immediately booked tickets, even though they were overpriced, because I wanted the experience of being introduced to Peter Capaldi's Doctor in cinemas. I even dressed for the occasion.

However, there is one thing that really bothers me. The Doctor has lived for over 1000 years. He always gives his enemies a chance, and is friends with all different species, and tends to reject differences between species as being relevant. He has a strong objection to causing harm, and an incredibly deontological (what you do matters more than the overall consequences) approach to ethics (Time War complexities aside). Why then, is he perfectly happy to eat roast beef, not to mention fish fingers and custard? It's true that humans (and presumably Gallifreyans) are good at cognitive dissonance, and he is probably better than most, considering his history in the Time War, but I still don't think that meat eating makes sense for his character.

Of course, The Doctor is supposed to be appealing to the everyday Brit, and I guess a vegetarian Doctor, let alone a vegan one, would probably damage that appeal somewhat. Furthermore, it probably wouldn't have occurred to the scriptwriters in the first place. That doesn't stop it from being jarring every time I see him tucking in to something he shouldn't. Furthermore, when I did a bit of digging, I discovered that the Sixth Doctor became vegetarian, and the Doctor wasn't seen to eat meat again until the reboot (source). Why couldn't that have been kept in for the reboot? They needn't have made a thing of it, just not shown the doctor sitting down and happily chowing down on animal flesh.

What do you think? Am I overanalysing an in general superficial storyline? Alternatively, what do you think of the Season 8 premiere?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic that Clara is finally going to develop some character depth, and the throwaway line "Last time I checked you weren't a vegetarian" (no context given to avoid spoilers) was particularly interesting given that I already had this post half-written last night. I also fell like I'm going to like the new doctor. Of course, the only one I didn't like on intro was Tennant, who I think ended up being my favourite.